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2. Social ethical orientation

Worldwide people are leaving their country, fleeing or emigrating. It is not always easy to distinguish between fleeing and migrating. However, refugees particularly need protection…

2.1 A league match of hearts

German, Asian, pastor. Daniel Cham Jung knows what it means to be a stranger in your own country. A football fan, he dreams that a Korean will score goals for Germany in the near future…

Daniel is in two minds when he speaks of home. The German-Korean is a Protestant pastor in the Schwelm church district in Westphalia. He was born in 1984 in Castrop-Rauxel and grew up in Dortmund; but for a long time he was torn about where his home actually is.

The child of the Ruhr area, of Asian origin, is firmly linked to Germany. His parents have lived for decades in Dortmund, and feel “fully integrated”. They want to be buried here. First his mother came to Germany in 1967 as a nurse. His father left his homeland Korea in the mid-70s to work in a German mine.

Daniel Cham Jung and his wife, who also has Korean parents, understand themselves as representatives of a future Germany that is culturally more and more diverse. It hurts him all the more when someone says: “You are not German” or “Germany is not your home”. Looking Asian, the pastor attracts attention in his congregation. “At present I am unique,” he knows. Many people cannot recognize on the phone that he comes from a family with a migration background. His appearance cannot be hidden, however, and people often react with surprise. He often has to explain why he looks the way he does. Even friendly inquiries can be irritating and understood as an attack. Being a foreigner is not a yet normal thing in Germany.

Jung understands himself as German and Korean. That became even clearer to him during his 15-month internship abroad in Seoul, Korea. There he was not a foreigner even though he does not speak the language perfectly. For the first time he sensed how it feels to live in a country “in which everyone looks like me”.

Unlike in Korea or in the United States, language plays a big role in Germany, he says. “In Germany people are classified according to their linguistic ability.” Many opportunities are thereby lost, Jung regrets. In the United States, for example, people have to put their ideas across, and make them understandable. How they do that language-wise is not so important – unlike in Germany. Here linguistic ability plays a key role. Jung sometimes has the impression that grammatical correctness and eloquence are all that matters. That excludes many people, he remarks.

Looking different than the norm is a lasting challenge though. Daniel often uses that as a starting point for conversations. The young pastor has a personal dream: “When the first Korean plays in the German national soccer team every goal will be mark a victory.”

Die deutsche Fußballnationalmannschaft der Herren

Football is a field which is intercultural right up to the World Cup. At the same time, during the 2018 World Cup the debate about Mesut Özil, the former German national player, made it clear how fragile intercultural communication is in our society.

Migration is one of the constants of human history; it was and is a worldwide phenomenon. In almost all countries of the earth there is immigration and emigration. Certainly international migration is particularly high at present. That means when people move to another country for more than 12 months, as only they are included in international statistics. International migration grew continually from 173 million in 2000, to 222 million in 2010, and to 278 million in 2017. Many of these people do not go willingly but are forced to leave their country. At the end of 2015, 63.5 million people were fleeing worldwide from war, hunger and poverty. That was more than ever before. Most of them find refuge in neighboring countries, 90% in developing countries.

The dividing line between migration and fleeing is not always clear. Nevertheless it is significant. Refugees are a particularly vulnerable group of migrants, who had to flee on the basis of political, religious or ethnic persecution, and also due to ongoing war. Most of them flee to neighboring countries. At present these are mainly Lebanon, Jordan and Kenya, whose infrastructure is overtaxed by the high number of refugees. Furthermore, people are often forced to migrate from poverty. General conditions like a drastic prosperity gap, environmental crises, or other events create the conditions and the environment in which people take decisions to go or stay. Modern means of communication and transport make it easier to put the decision to migrate into practice.

Such events can be observed worldwide at all times. The acceptance of Reformed refugees at the Lower Rhine in the 16th century can be understood as an early form of asylum policy, or the welcoming of the Huguenots, French Protestants fleeing for their faith, by German princes in the 17th century, mainly in the Saar and around Berlin.

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One Reply to “2.1 A league match of hearts”

  1. EKvW

    Translated from German

    Great video!

    Author: Subcommittee UCC (United Church of Christ)

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2.2 Germany as a society shaped by migration

Italian pizza, Turkish doner kebabs, Chinese lumpia (spring rolls), vodka from Poland and Russia. We are very open to experiment when it comes to eating and drinking. Germany became international and multicultural after 1945 when the first expellees and refugees arrived from eastern Europe. Later migrant workers known as “guest workers” were recruited from Turkey and southern Europe. Yet German society is still far from being open-minded in all areas…

Many Germans were also forced to leave their homes through wars, religious conflicts, famines, political ills and a lack of social prospects. The founding of the first European colonies saw the start of emigration across the Atlantic around 1700. After the Prussian Union formed in 1818, strict Lutherans left as faith refugees seeking religious freedom overseas. Between 1816 and 1914 almost six million Germans emigrated to the United States, Canada, Brazil or Australia, in order to work for better living conditions for themselves and their children.

With the beginning of the high phase of industrialization towards the end of the 19th century, the German Reich became one of the most important countries of immigration worldwide. Laborers from southern Europe, but mainly from the rural regions of east Prussia, particularly Poland and Mazury, immigrated within the German Reich to the then economic “boom regions”, mainly in the Ruhr area. Furthermore, in 1914 there were about 1.2 million foreign migrant workers in the German Reich.

Persecution, expulsion and fleeing characterized migration in the course of the two world wars. The genocide of the European Jews, of which only 34,000 survived in Germany, is still today a warning to guarantee an open and tolerant society.

The years of the ‘economic miracle’ particularly molded German society. Owing to the job opportunities in industry, many people came to North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) after fleeing the former German eastern territories (now Poland) and from the German Democratic Republic. In 1961, 17% of the inhabitants of NRW belonged to this group. A regulated recruitment of foreign workers – particularly from southern Europe, Turkey and North Africa – took place from 1955, because mining, heavy industry and industrial mass manufacturing generated a great demand for labor. Consequently, various forms of migration movements took place: NRW was “on the move”.

Finally the lower shopping area is interesting again. There are lots of little shops and cafés and no more stupid amusement arcades. I like going to the little Syrian food shop. The people there are so friendly.

Woman, 48

Despite the recruitment stop and an increasingly restrictive migration policy from 1973, many foreign migrant workers remained in Germany and attempted to integrate. At the time they were known as ‘guest workers’, which was meant to underline their limited residence status. They received support in integrating mainly from churches, welfare associations, clubs and the workplace. However, there was no government policy to integrate this group of migrants.

The arrival of migrants of German origin ran differently. As of 1953 the federal displaced persons law governed the acceptance of Russian Germans as settlers entitled to German citizenship. From the 1960s many descendants of German settlers who had gone to Russia in the 18th century under Catherine the Great moved to the Federal Republic of Germany. In the 1980s, and particularly after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the immigration of the settlers soared. Between 1992 and 2015 over 1.8 million people came to Germany from the former Soviet Union. Since more than 50% of the settlers and late settlers from the former USSR were Protestant there was a great immigration into our church. The Evangelical Church of Westphalia thereby gained about 280,000 new members, who today account for over 10% of its members.

When at the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s the number of asylum seekers grew strongly as a consequence of the Balkan wars, the political debate peaked in the ‘asylum compromise’: this enabled the deportation of asylum seekers to ‘safe third countries’. Persons with the status of temporary permission to remain were largely excluded from the integration programs and the labor market. At this time there was an upsurge of churches giving sanctuary as a response to the unsolved human rights problems of German asylum law.

2005 saw the introduction of an immigration law and an adaptation of German law to European requirements. For example, the labor market was opened up to European Union citizens through worker mobility within the EU. Most immigrants to North Rhine-Westphalia still come from Poland. But also the share of Romanians and Bulgarians has risen in the course of EU worker mobility, often with hitherto unresolved social problems, since their social security status is problematic. Since the international financial crisis of 2007/08 immigration from Italy, Spain and Greece has risen. These migrants mostly find a job pretty quickly.

For some years there has been much more immigration from civil war areas, e.g. Syria. Owing to persecution, fleeing, wars and famine, the number of asylum seekers in NRW rose in 2015 and 2016 to over 300,000. Since 2017 the number has been falling.

They came as refugees and found a place to live here

I live near the university. In the student residence opposite there are people of many nationalities and different skin color. They get on the tram with me and give me the feeling of living in a cosmopolitan city. People living in the district in the second and third generation travel with us. They came as refugees and found a place to live and a friendly reception. My parish offered sanctuary on several occasions. It runs a social centre in the district with help with homework and an advice service. Together with the Catholic neighboring parish we can always find accommodation even if the market does not seem positive. I enjoy the colorful mix of people out shopping, people with veils and turbans, wide trousers and long dresses, who speak many languages to each other but always German to me.

Ghetto formation and growing roughness

Once a week I go to the opposite end of the city. I have to change to another tram line in the center of town. There too I travel with people who came here from distant countries one or two generations ago. They were settled in a district like a ghetto, people from over 60 countries, in terms of origin hostile to one another for generations. In this tram it is usually noisy young men proudly boast to each other in loud voices how they have tricked a ‘cop’. They phone a mate at the top of their voice (“hey, guy”), who is supposed to come to finish off Ali, whom they are going to see. Unashamedly they pull the new knife out of their socks and show it with pride. Late in the night I don’t always feel at ease in this tram and am glad when I can change trams again in the city center.

Woman, 75

The debate about the challenge of immigration has increased since then. In often problematic ways, partly linked to xenophobic and racist motives, questions of national identity are increasingly discussed.

By deliberately breaking with taboos, some are calling into question the fact that human dignity is inviolable, regardless of origin and ethnic background.

The group of those who are skeptical to rejecting of immigrants and thereby also of growing diversity is not uniform.

I go through the lower shopping street in our town and can’t see a single German shop. Only foreign shops, weird eating houses, strange smells and a foreign language. I can’t see any Germans here either. Where are we living?

Man, 70

Besides persons on the margins of society, the skeptics also include men and women who are socially established. They are, above all, skeptical of social diversity on the basis of their framework of conservative values. This group is, however, interested in political discourse. On the other hand, there are representatives of a fundamentally anti-pluralist value stance, who think nationally or even nationalistically and proclaim the ideal of an apparently ‘homogeneous’ population.

In the new political party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD), there are representatives of these different directions, with the national and nationalist group increasingly dominating impact of the party in the media and tending towards rightwing extremist positions.

These distinctions make it clear that the rightwing populist challenge must be handled in different ways.

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2 Replies to “2.2 Germany as a society shaped by migration”

  1. EKvW

    Translated from German

    In this passage the proportion of late resettlers is too much focused on Russia as country of origin. Especially Poland among others is another important country of origin.
    I didn’t know that the proportion of late resettlers coming from Russia makes up 10% of our congregation. My impression: Perhaps they can be found in the worship service but surely not in the management structures of our church. It would be interesting to see where they can be found among the employees.

    Author: Ulf Wegmann, presbyter

  2. EKvW

    Translated from German

    I would not exist if some of my ancestors had not migrated to “Germany” because of religious persecution (Huguenots) or working migration (Austria). And in the 19th century some of my ancestors migrated to America, because as weavers they wanted to escape famine and lack of perspective. Migration and integration do always exist and also today.
    We have to deal with it actively and should not lament about it.

    Author: Claudia Boge-Grothaus

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2.3 Shaping growing diversity – a task for religions

Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Yazidi, Alevi, Bahai, Sikhs and other believers live in North Rhine-Westphalia. Many mosques adorn the skyline with their minarets. Denominations and religions are more than ever called to shape a flourishing life together…


Arriving in the new home: building mosques as a visible sign

The mosque association in Dortmund-Hörde, which emerged from the Turkish-Islamic cultural association, ran a ‘backyard’ mosque from 1982 in a converted apartment block opposite the steelworks. As the Turkish immigrants increasingly became integrated, the wish arose to feel at home in a religious sense to and make this visible. The mosque association started talks with the city administration in 2003 and looked for a suitable property in the district. This was quickly found – an empty block at Grimmelsiepen.

When the plans became public, the citizens began an intensive debate. Influenced by the events of 11 September 2001, the debate was heated. They founded a citizens’ action group, and collected signatures against the mosque. The Protestant parish invited politicians, the church district, the Catholic parish and the mosque association to a round table in Grimmelsiepen. The urban planning department organized public meetings to which over 250 people came and engaged in very emotional discussion.

The Muslims felt attacked and under general suspicion, which hurt their feelings. They did not understand why the German population was suddenly so mistrustful and anxious since they had lived in Hörde for decades, in some cases, and did not feel like strangers.

When Neonazis in 2004 mobilized two national demonstrations against building the mosque in Hörde, that brought the citizens together. The Hörde population distanced itself from the Nazi calls and finally organized, hand in hand with the mosque association, a counter-demonstration with over 1000 participants. Muslims had printed posters with the slogan: “My home is Hörde. Haven’t got any other one” and “Not strangers. Fellow citizens for 40 years.”

While the protest continued discussion developed about the building plan. Finally the mosque was approved, with votes from the traditional left- and right-of-center parties SPD and CDU on the grounds of freedom of religion.Since the mosque has been finished, the protests have yielded to a great interest in guided tours of the mosque – precisely from the neighborhood. Many visitors were very impressed by the imposing building in which curious people can look through the clear glass windows. The mosque is a showcase for the district. The fact that it was completely funded from donations impresses most of the visitors.

What is still lacking is a minaret. By way of precaution, the city has already concluded a n agreement with the mosque community laying down the number of decibels and stipulating that the Adhan (call to prayer) may only ring out for Friday prayer once a week.

Moschee in Dortmund-Hörde

The Turkish-Islamic community Dortmund-Hörde opened its mosque in summer 2016 after three and a half years of construction. It extends invitations to neighbourhood festivals and guided visits. See its Facebook page for more information. Photo: ditib-hoerde

Migration leads to growing social diversity, not least to religious pluralism. More plurality enriches and, at the same time, confronts society with challenges, as migrants bring along other values as well as their cultural and religious backgrounds.

Migrants face the reverse challenge. The ideas about faith and values from their own culture, too, become only one option among many in a pluralist society. They have to be compatible with rules of individual self-determination and equal rights, as set out in the free democratic constitution.

The religions and religious communities are challenged to say how they understand the coexistence of their view of faith, life, the world and God and put them into practice. It is necessary to be able to give information about your own faith and, at the same time, share views on the connecting, but also dividing claims to truth.

The religiously neutral state looks for sustainable conditions and options to further develop the basically religion-friendly German constitution for different religious communities. At the same time, in view of religious violence, we are hearing voices in society expressing definite reservations about a public presence of religions. Excluding religious life from the general public on the pretext of supposed neutrality cannot be the solution in a free state based on the rule of law. However, religions must also clearly present its contribution to a peaceful living together, and that way give guidance with their fundamental values.

The religiously neutral state looks for sustainable conditions and options to further develop the basically religion-friendly German constitution for different religious communities. At the same time, in view of religious violence, we are hearing voices in society expressing definite reservations about a public presence of religions. Excluding religious life from the general public on the pretext of supposed neutrality cannot be the solution in a free state based on the rule of law. However, religions must also clearly present its contribution to a peaceful living together, and that way give guidance with their fundamental values.

With respect to Christian faith, too, the process of pluralization is shown in a growing diversity of denominations. This development is comparatively new. Since the wars of religion of the Reformation period, the various German regions have mostly been uniform in their respective religious culture. Major changes came with the migrant labor during the industrialization period and the history of fleeing and expulsion at the end of World War II.

The present is characterized by friendly proximity and partnership in relations between the two big mainline churches (Protestant and Roman Catholic) and other smaller denominations and Free Churches. In the course of the present migration movements, people with other church and cultural backgrounds are coming to Germany. The migrants experience religious community and celebrating faith in their own language, their worship and musical traditions as a source of strength. At the same time, they seek to encounter and share in the life of the older local parishes.

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2.4 Opening ways towards integration!

What is integration? There are no simple answers. It is often thought to mean adapting to a new situation in life. It is difficult for people of other backgrounds to keep up their own culture, their own faith. Yet that can be very enriching…

Migration societies must shape conditions in which integration can succeed. This key task has been long ignored in Germany, to the disadvantage of both migrants and the host society. Only since 2007 has there been a national integration plan, and since 2008 there have been reports on the way integration is progressing (or not).

Although the concept of integration is used as a matter of course, it is often unclear what it means. What expectations are directed to whom? Basically, integration means a mutual process, offering everyone the same opportunities for participation in societal goods (law, education, health, social security). Integration therefore does not mean one-sided adaption or assimilation of migrants but the involvement and participation of everyone. In this spirit, integration calls for reciprocal stories of encounter, as are often enabled by local connections with your “own” neighborhood, your “own” city or the local sports club. Integration grows best from below, through common experience in the neighborhood, at the workplace, not least in the church or religious communities at the local level.

In my role as a representative of small businesses I have always been in favor of dialogue and have called on Turkish businessmen to join our associations. However, for integration what happens in the mosques is what matters. Muslims belong to Germany, no question of that. But Islam does not distinguish between church and state. This separation is basic for our constitution. So we should be allowed to ask whether an ideological Islam fits with our free and democratic constitution. I don’t consider Islam able to integrate in Germany. At any rate, at present I am finding it more of a barrier than an aid to integration.

Read the whole commentary

Friedhelm Müller, former deputy chair of the CDU SME association in NRW, founding member of the German-Turkish Forum

Since we pray together both in a mosque and in a church, the question about the same God becomes secondary. The fact that we pray together and together carry out diaconal service is faith in practice.

Read the whole commentary

Agim Ibishi, social worker, Muslim and member of the Diakonisches Werk in the Evangelical church district of Herford

At another level we distinguish between individual and structural integration. Individually the degree of integration is measured by success criteria with respect to education (particularly language acquisition), work and income, and means an appropriate sharing in the economic opportunities of the receiving society. Structural integration relates, by contrast, to assuming the basic values of the host society and means accepting fundamental rules of the majority culture. This is not without political opposition, but nevertheless describes an essential aspect of integration.

The values of the German society are oriented to the human rights standards of the main “basic rights” of the German constitution (Articles 1–20), which are not up for discussion and must be accepted by migrants if they want to settle in Germany. The standards are historically and objectively closely linked to Christian principles, but can be understood and accepted by people of other religions and worldviews. In addition, certain cultural attitudes of our society must be respected. They include, for example, the rhythm of seasons and festivals determined by Christianity in the annual cycle, which – despite many secularizing tendencies regarding work-free Sundays or at Easter and Christmas time – still basically determine our culture. Furthermore, fundamental historical experiences from recent German history are influential, in particular the culture of remembering the Holocaust with the consequences of rejecting any form of anti-Semitism and recognizing the right to existence of the State of Israel.

On the other hand, many people with a migration history cultivate the language and culture of their family background. That does not contradict the form of structural integration but can be positive in the spirit of a gradual integration.

The cultivation of traditions in the history of origin is an important resource for many migrants, encouraging them in the transition between the cultures. It can, however, also enrich the host society.

I don’t understand a lot about their (Arab) culture but the people are nice and really friendly.

Man, 42

Preserving the culture of origin should therefore not be in competition with involvement in the host country but as a natural addition.

In summary, this means that integration is a mutual event between the host society and migrants. This includes the acceptance of fundamental rules of the host society, the cultivation of migration traditions and mutual learning processes. Integration is a cross-societal task, which includes the coordinated deployment of promotion measures and an intercultural opening of state institutions and civil society institutions (not least, religious ones). This, above all, calls for programs to promote and secure equality of opportunities. Migrants are not only objects of state benefits but self-confident agents of societal change. Migrant organizations are therefore important partners when it comes to jointly defining and implementing the necessary steps for social integration. The participation of all is both the way towards such integration and its goal.

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4 Replies to “2.4 Opening ways towards integration!”

  1. EKvW

    Translated from German

    I think that the expression integration is dangerous as quite often it is confused with assimilation. Here too I prefer the expression inclusion –as a sign of unreserved admission to society. What remains is the challenge of shaping the togetherness in a good way.

    Author: Ulf Wegmann, presbyter

  2. EKvW

    Translate from German

    Yes, the expression „integration“ is contradictory and is used in a broader sense. Confusions are not excluded with such an abundance and tightness concerning mode of use.
    But I dare to doubt that “inclusion” is an alternative, as that expression is similarly in its inexactness. And one single expression cannot always explain clearly what we want to express.
    There is no alternative: Again and again we have to declare us and our intention, exactly and comprehensively. That needs strength and time but it is worth the effort.

    Author: Malte Hausmann

  3. EKvW

    Translated from German

    Participants of the circuit synod Münster, 26.06.2019

    Create basis for integration:
    – Improve language skills
    – Promote contacts, e.g. family centers, HOTs (home of the open door)
    – Win migrants for cooperation. Stewart „Integration pilots”
    – Supporting migrants with administrative procedures

    * Wait for people who want to integrate OR go towards people?

  4. EKvW

    Translated from German

    Integration: It is necessary that migrants want to integrate: Professional monitoring on both sides is necessary, but very different in society. Both sides should want integration similarly.

    Integration is a constant task. Resources are necessary for congregations as well as support and training as well as professional support: e.g. “Stand up to slogans”.

    Counteract overload, also by training courses.

    Author: Participants of the circuit synod Münster, 26.06.2019

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